Saturday, 4 July 2020

American Trilogy

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Camelot - La French Cuisine

It was a beautiful sunny day when the French Nobleman Coeur de Fer arrived in Camelot with his entourage. That’s a French word meaning large waist, for he was indeed big and rotund. Just as well he was met by Sir Cumference, the Camelot Foreign Affairs ambassador and gourmet, who was also of similar perimeter in girth.

The French guest was taken to the chamber housing the Round Table where King Arthur was in attendance with his Knights. They were offered tea by Earl Grey or coffee if they preferred by Arabica Bean. Freshly baked biscuits were also brought in by the palace’s master chef Ivor Crumbs.

“Now then …” said young King Arthur, “I understand Monsieur Coeur de Fer that your King Louis-le-Fier of France wishes me to marry one or both of his daughters. Namely Marge A’ Reen or Marm A’Laid!”

“Oh non, pas du tout, Majesté,” declared the French Nobleman, “whatever ‘az given you zat idea? Zee two lovelly Princesses zey ‘ave all readee been married yesterday.

“One az married zee Prince of Italy, Ravioli della Sauce, zee son of Emperor Mc Arony.

“And zee ozer Princess az married Herr Mitt, zee iron-fisted Chancellor of Germany who always lived alone on zee mountain. He is now no longer a Herr Mitt and will be known as Herr Exhausted instead!”

“I see …” said a relieved King Arthur “so … if the purpose of your visit is not to seek my marriage with either Princess of France, what exactly is your purpose here?”

Before the French Nobleman could reply, King Arthur went on.

“And one more thing … what made him and his daughters change their minds?”

“Well … eet eez a delicate matter …” hesitated the French Nobleman noticing that Sir Galahad, one of the Knights of the Round Table, was cleaning his toe nails with a sharp cutlass.

“Don’t worry about him,” said King Arthur, “he is sulking because I will not pay for his pedicure!”

“Zee reason zee Princesses chose to marry an Italian and a German is because of zeir cuisine, Majesté,” said Coeur de Fer.

“Both countries zey use plentee of zee garlic, which we love in la belle France.

“But if zee Princesses ‘ad married you, zey would ‘ave ‘ad to endure a lifetime of boiled potatoes, boiled carrots, boiled parsnips, boiled turnips, boiled swedes, boiled cabbage … even zee meat is boiled in Camelot. No garlic or onions whatsoever!”

“All right … I get it,” interrupted the angry King of Camelot, “so they don’t like our cooking. Well they can go and boil their heads as far as I’m concerned. And the same with you!”

“But please, s’il vous plait, Majesté! Wee need your ‘elp,” pleaded Coeur de Fer.

This made King Arthur sit up.

“My help? How so?” he asked.

“Wee ‘ave in France a plague of zee frogs. Zey are everee where,” explained the Frenchman, “Zey jump and zey hop all over zee place. Sometimes zey jump up zee ladies skirts as far as possible. Sometimes zey even reach possible.

“Wee do not know what to do. Zee frogs zey eat everee thing. All zee fields are barren because zee frogs ‘ave eaten all the vegetation. I ‘ave come to ask you what wee should do!”

“Can’t you catch them?” asked King Arthur.

“Zey are veree fast,” said Coeur de Fer, “zey do zee running all over zee place!”

“Well, cut their legs off,” laughed King Arthur finishing his goblet of wine. 

 And that’s how the French added another delicacy to their cuisine.

And the moral of this story, (so far), is: I once took a young lady to a French restaurant. She had frogs’ legs. But the rest of her body was beautiful.

Historical fact: It was at the time of Camelot that garlic and onions entered the British cuisine, (we think). But not yet frogs' legs and snails. Unless you go to a posh restaurant that is. These days in the UK we eat toad in the hole. Do you know what it is?

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Thy will be (not) done

When we pray the Lord's Prayer we recite the words, "Thy will be done". But do we really meant it?

Or do we mean "Thy will be done, as long as it is what I want"?

Let us consider whether it is God's will what is happening in the world today.

The world is in chaos. There's poverty in many countries, as well as wars, and persecutions, false imprisonments, injustice and illnesses and diseases.

Is this really God's will? That we should suffer all this?

There's also more evil at local and at the individual level too. People lying, cheating, stealing, being violent and murdering others.

A number of the examples above, (if not all), are specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

But this does not stop people cheating on their spouses, or stealing from their employers, or committing bigger crimes.

Surely it cannot be said that all this is God's will being done on earth. Surely it is done against His will.

Let's consider what is God's will. Of course, we can only guess or presume, but let us see what we understand His will to be from what we have learnt from the Bible.

He is our Creator. He loves us. And He would wish us to lead a happy life on earth, in peace with each other, caring for each other, obeying His commandments, in preparation for the day when we return to meet Him again in Heaven.

I think that pretty much sums it up. His wish is that we love Him back in return and to spend eternity with Him.

But then, there are many who will not return to Him in Heaven. They don't even believe in Him, and, by their behaviour, would gladly, with impertinence perhaps, spend eternity away from Him.

Is that really God's will?

The answer is surely "No". It is not God's will that many of His creations turn their back on Him, mock Him and despise Him. It is not His will either that terrible things happen all around the world and so many people suffer.

He allows it to happen because He is not a controlling magician or superman at our beck and call ready to fix everything and anything that goes wrong in our lives.

He allows things to happen because in a lot of cases we have asked Him to keep out of our lives.

He allows them to happen because we want to enjoy and use the freedom and liberty which He has gifted us. He didn't make us robots. So we want to rebel, and do it our way. Why should He now stop us?

He also allows things to happen to give us the opportunity to be charitable, caring and loving towards those less fortunate than ourselves.

So, if at first glance, we assume that God's will is not being done; it is partly true.

His will is that of a loving Father who wants the best for His children.

Our will is that of the rebellious child who thinks he knows best and will do it his way after all.

It is man's will, and Evil's will, that has resulted in the chaos the world is in today.

Evil is a powerful force in our world, seemingly present everywhere, and is so difficult to eradicate.

God permits it within clearly defined limitations and parameters.

As Jesus prevails against it, we ask for his help never to give up in our struggle against the evil around us.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

No one said it would be easy, cobber.

We were watching a Christian program on TV and I made an off the cuff comment that sometimes it is very difficult being a Christian considering all the world’s temptations and how many non-believers seem to have it so good.

My Australian Aunt Gertrude who is staying with us for a (long) while, stopped knitting and said “No one said it would be easy, cobber! Jesus never said "you'll all get into Heaven no worries mate!" ”

I smiled and she continued.

“If the Good Lord meant us all to return to Him in Heaven He would have created a load of senseless boomerangs! We'd live our life here with smiles all round and then boomerang back to paradise. Well, it ain't like that I tell ye ... just take it from me!”

I smiled again at her interpretation of Scripture and before I could say anything she went on.

“But the Good Lord is wise and kind you see. He gave us the choice to choose between going to Him in Heaven or spending eternity in a hell hole hotter than the outback! We must make that choice, it just ain't automatic fair dinkum and all that!”

I must say I never realized she had such opinions. She is Christian all right but she never talks religion … until now.

“It is not compulsory to go to Heaven!” she announced as if she’d discovered a newly found secret, “we have a choice to make between Heaven or roasting our backsides for ever in the outback!

“And for us to make the choice between good and evil, God had to allow evil in the world.

“If evil didn’t exist then we’d have no choice to make; and with no choice we’d all do good and we’d boomerang back to Heaven.

"What I'm sayin fella ... is that we'd be like robots with no brains to make a choice with. But as I said, if you were listening, God being kind and all that, gave us the freedom to choose ... that's a great gift which we often take for granted mate!”

I stifled a laugh at her colourful explanation of Free Will and imagined her as a preacher in her native Australia.

“So as I was saying before you interrupt me fella …” she continued, “God allowed evil to happen in the shape of the devil. He allowed him to exist and gave him the freedom to tempt us into his evil ways.

“His temptations come in many shapes and sizes … from the tiny piece of chocolate to a cigarette, a bottle of drink or spending a lifetime bonking someone we’re not married to!”

At this I had to let out a laugh. She frowned like an old school teacher chastising a little naughty child.

“I’m sorry Auntie,” I said, “I am not laughing at you, I’m laughing at your way of expressing yourself.”

“That’s OK fella …” she smiled, “it's just that I feel there are so many Christians in name only. But they aren't fooling God ye know ... They may think they are holy and do-gooders but the Lord isn't easily fooled by their false piety and hideous sins.

"I know it isn’t easy being a Christian. What, with life being as difficult as it is and we're all rushing around like our derrière is on fire. But Christianity is a way of life my friend. It's not a badge one wears on one’s lapel. And when life gets difficult the Good Lord and His Mother Mary will help if we ask them.”

“Are there any Australian Saints?” I asked for no apparent reason.

“I don’t know cobber,” she replied, “but if there are they’d be quietly spoken, shy and demure; like most Australians are!” she smiled.


Monday, 29 June 2020

I believe

I wonder ... if you were to go out in the streets and ask people at random to finish this phrase, what would they say:

I believe ... ... ...

I guess some would say I believe the world is in a bad state right now.

Others might hope for better times and believe that all will be well soon.

Some might believe that there's too much fake news in the world and we don't know what to believe as true or lies.

Maybe people believe that they should keep their heads down, work hard and look after their families.

The pessimists may believe that the economy will get worse and people may lose their jobs and homes. This may lead to further problems ahead.

The optimists may believe that all will be well, they'll do well in life and get what they hope for - be it a good job, home, car or whatever.

The conspiracy theorists will believe whatever conspiracy theorists always believe at any moment in time regarding whatever subject we're discussing.

I wonder ... ... ...

How many people would say - I believe in one living God. The Creator of all things. Who is in control of all things no matter what mess we make of this world.

It seems to me, (correct me if I'm wrong), that people these days are distancing themselves from God. You know ... just like when a politician, or a celebrity, a well known personality, does or says something we don't approve of, and his friends and colleagues distance themselves from the statement or the person.

People are distancing themselves from God.

It is not fashionable these days to say we believe in God. It's not the done thing. We keep our beliefs and religion to ourselves. We don't discuss them openly, in public, at work, or in the pub, the gym or elsewhere. Some of us don't even discuss religion at home.

There was a time when people prayed as a family at home. There was a time when people prayed in schools before lessons began. There was a time when people made the Sign of the Cross before meals, or said Grace.

What? Say Grace before meals in a restaurant? You must be joking. People will think I am weird.

People will think I am weird.

That is why we distance ourselves from God. That is why we don't openly talk about Him. That is why we don't pray so often. Or teach our children about God. It's the school's job to teach about God - but - the school does not, because it sees this as the parents' job. And the children grow up not knowing God.

You cannot distance yourself from Someone you do not know.

And generations grow up not knowing God breeding more generations not knowing God even more.

And a world without God is chaos.
That's what I believe.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Time for Reflections

Another short recording (9 minutes) from my time on the radio.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

I am not worthy

We know we are loved by Jesus. We are told so many times in the Bible. By Jesus Himself.

But do we trust these words? Do we believe them? And are we truly worthy of that love? Do we trust Him enough to be by our side at all times of our lives; especially when things are difficult ... very difficult?

Thank you Lord. I am a sinner. I am not worthy ... thank you ...

This "must-see" short video (3 minutes) shows us an example of someone who thought he was not worthy. Do we have as much faith as him? Do we pray and believe Jesus will respond?